2020 | Argyro Nicolaou
History Lesson explores the intergenerational effects of internal displacement and the inchoate histories they produce. A researcher discovers films shot in Cyprus before 1974, material that has been ‘displaced’ from mainstream Cypriot consciousness in favor of mono-cultural interpretations of the island’s history. She uses these films to learn about ‘the other side’, filling in the gaps of her refugee mother’s family history, and creating an alternative history curriculum for the island. The researcher’s performance is conducted as a lesson: What if we used artistic sources, instead of jingoistic narratives, to create and teach our history? Could we get closer to the truth? History Lesson understands displacement as a metaphorical ‘transport’ of the audience across time and space, but also as a shared experience with ethical ramifications. The performance harbors a desire to return to a vision of Cyprus as a whole; before the island was displaced from itself.
Argyro Nicolaou (writer, director, performer) – Argyro is a scholar and filmmaker based in New York City. Her research focuses on the representation of Mediterranean displacements in literature, film, and visual art. In her media practice, Argyro uses historical research and video to conduct a contemporary media archaeology which excavates liminal and underrepresented modes of being and knowing in Europe’s Mediterranean periphery. She holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton.
Polymnia Tsinti (media archive researcher, media editor) – Polymnia Tsinti is an artist filmmaker and a Fine Arts graduate from the University of Nicosia. Her ongoing interest in notions of performativity of the everyday via the cinematic image is informed by critically engaging with video art and media theory.
Argyro and Polymnia first worked together on Argyro’s short film I, Tony, about Cypriot fashion photographer Tony Moussoulides. They share a common passion for media art, performance, and decolonial theory.